Butler Tallies 20 In WUG Warmup

West Virginia University's Da'Sean Butler scored a team-high 20 points to lead the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team (1-0) to a come-from-behind victory over Canada (0-1) 85-81 in the 2009 Serbia International Invitational on Saturday night in Belgrade.

The U.S., which trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and utilized a 28-14 fourth-quarter surge to clinch the win, was aided in the victory by Corey Fisher with 11 points, while Lazar Hayward and Deon Thompson tossed in 10 points apiece.

Staring down a 10-point, 67-57 hole with one quarter to go, Fisher fed Thompson for two points to kick-start the USA's comeback. The eventual 12-0 run ended with a Thompson steal, resulting in an Evan Turner 3-pointer at 7:30 that gave the U.S. its first lead of the game, 69-67.

"(The fourth quarter) was a change in attitude, demeanor, everything," said Butler. "Evan really knocked down a big 3-pointer that put us up by two points. To have him make that shot lifted everybody's spirits, and everybody was just excited to get back on defense and get the ball back."

Butler played a team-high 31 minutes and added two rebounds and two steals to his 20-point total. He made six of his 12 shots from the field, including three for eight from beyond the arc, and converted five of his six free throw attempts.

The USA, which shot 44.8 percent (30-67 FGs) overall and 30.4 percent (7-23 3pt FGs) from 3-point during the game, hit 56.3 percent (9-16 FGs) of its attempts from the field, including an even 50.0 percent from beyond the arc (3-6 3pt FGs), in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the USA only turned the ball over twice in the final stanza and was credited for four steals. In contrast, Canada coughed up the ball seven times in the fourth quarter and made just 29.4 percent (5-17 FGs) of its field goals in the final period.

The U.S. continues the pre-World University Games tournament against Serbia on June 28 (3:00 p.m. EDT), following the Canada – Russia contest (12:30 p.m. EDT). The round-robin Serbia International Invitational concludes on June 29 with the USA taking on Russia (12:30 p.m. EDT) and Serbia against Canada (3:00 p.m. EDT).

"(Serbia's) going to be a tough game," Butler said . "It's a dog fight, and you have to play hard. We watched them play. They play aggressive, they play hard and they play smart at times as well. We are looking at a very well coached team and a very aggressive team. We just have to come out and match that intensity and not give up any easy baskets."

The United States is set to open World University Games play on July 3 against Finland (2:00 p.m. EDT) and faces South Korea on July 4 (2:00 p.m.). Second round action is scheduled for July 6-7, quarterfinals will be played July 9 and medal semifinals are slated for July 10. The gold medal will be contested on July 11 (3:00 p.m. EDT).

The United States has claimed a medal in every World University Games men's basketball competition since beginning play in 1965 and has captured a record 13 gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals in the 18 WUGs in which a USA Basketball squad has competed. Entering the 2009 competition the USA owns an amazing 125-7 record in World University Games play.

More From Da'Sean:

Q: What did you think about the USA defense in your first game?

A: I think we did well. We can always get better as a team. We just got together a few weeks ago. Right now we are playing well, but we are not playing up to our potential, defensively or offensively.

Q: You were the USA's leading scorer with 20-points, was that about you being aggressive or your teammates getting you the ball?

A: I would say a little bit of both. Corey found me a lot, Talor found me a lot and the big men definitely found me a lot as far as Deon and Craig. They found me on the perimeter, and a lot of shots just fell tonight. I've had lots of games where teammates found me, and I missed. They just fell tonight.

Q: Do you expect a loud hometown crowd?

A: I hope so. I like playing in away games, so it should be fun.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories